In this world, we will meet situations which require forgiveness. Pain is inevitable, and holding on to past hurts is harmful to health. One needs to learn to let go of negative feelings which may cause anxiety and depression. Forgiveness is a topic Christ addressed more often. Forgiveness and faith go together. Christ’s greatest demonstration of forgiveness is at the cross when He asks His heavenly father to forgive those who crucified Him. “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” Luke 23:34. This example shows that it is possible to forgive even those who do not know they are doing wrong. 

Forgiveness has no conditions. One can freely extend forgiveness to the offender without the offender asking for it. Christ died for everyone, including those who died for Him.

And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. - Ephesians 4:32

To forgive means to pardon someone from the wrong they have done. It means to show compassion. It means to let go of feelings of anger and bitterness. Forgiveness may mean forgiving someone for the wrong they have done, or you may be the one being forgiven. When you forgive, you become a better person because you are set free.

Why forgiveness is required

Forgiveness sets us free. It allows us to move forward with life. “Forgiveness is an act of liberation. It frees us from feelings which are toxic to the soul and allows us to move forward in our life and faith.” Edward Grinnan, Guideposts.Without forgiveness it is impossible to experience joy in Christ. If we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven of our sins. Mark 11:25-26. Research also shows that there are physical and mental health benefits of forgiveness. Christ understood the importance of forgiveness in healing. He would forgive sins and heal at the same time. True forgiveness offers peace. Colossians 3:13-15. 

Holding on to unforgiveness can stop our prayers from being answered. In the parable of the unforgiving servant, (Matthew 18:23-35) Christ explains what can happen when we do not forgive. In the parable, the king pardoned the servant for failing to pay his debt, but the same servant did not forgive one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred pence. When the king heard all that the unforgiving servant had done, he asked him why he did not forgive his fellow servant as he had done. This servant failed to show compassion to his fellow servant. The king then delivered him to his tormentors until he had paid everything he owed. In the same manner, if we do not forgive others, we cannot expect forgiveness from the Lord. In this parable, the king represents Christ who is forgiving. The servant owed a lot, but the king forgave him. Christ extends His forgiveness to us if we go to Him in faith. He cancelled the debt by dying on the cross.

The story of Joseph is another example of true forgiveness. True forgiveness is when one forgives completely. Although Joseph had completely forgiven his brothers, they were still guilty of the wrong they had done him. Joseph had moved on and chosen to leave everything to the Lord. The Lord was with him and he prospered in everything. Had Joseph decided to hold on to unforgiveness, maybe he would not have fulfilled the plans God had for him.

Christ is involved in the ministry of reconciliation, “And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15. We can learn true forgiveness from God who reconciled the world to Himself by sending His Son to die on the cross. Therefore, we have no reason not to forgive.

"...The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity..." Exodus 34:6-7

We can draw many important lessons about forgiveness in the Bible. In Matthew 5, Christ teaches about beatitudes, reconciliation, oaths and retaliation, prayer and fasting among other lessons. In all this, Christ taught forgiveness by His example. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7. Christ did not retaliate when persecuted, instead He chose to forgive. Without humility, it is impossible to forgive. We are to follow His example of humility in all situations. Forgiveness knows no bounds. We are encouraged to forgive as many times as possible. Luke 17:4.

Christ has the power to forgive. He offers forgiveness as a gift. He is able to help those who are struggling to forgive. No one is beyond God’s forgiveness.